Political Leaders

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a country of 76.9 million in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Until 1935 the country was known as Persia. Iran borders Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east; Turkmenistan to northeast, the Caspian Sea in the middle north and Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest; Turkey and Iraq to the west and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south.

Supreme LeaderEdit


Foreign AffairsEdit



Other MinistriesEdit


Other Political ElitesEdit

  • Mohammad Hadisar, Governor of Piranshahr
  • Morris Motamed, Iranian Jewish community leader
  • Mohammad-Reza Khatami
  • Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, political scientist
  • Mojtaba Ahmadi

Cultural ElitesEdit


Iran is divided into 30 provinces, each governed by an appointed governor or ostāndār استاندا.

  1. East Azarbaijan
  2. West Azarbaijan
  3. Ardabil
  4. Guilan
  5. Zanjan
  6. Kurdistan
  7. Qazvin
  8. Kermanshah
  9. Hamadan
  10. Ilam
  11. Markazi
  12. Luristan
  13. Khuzestan
  14. Mazandaran
  15. Tehran
  1. Qom
  2. Semnan
  3. Esfahan
  4. Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari
  5. Fars
  6. Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad
  7. Kerman
  8. Yazd
  9. Hormozgan
  10. Sistan and Baluchistan
  11. South Khorasan
  12. Razavi Khorasan
  13. Bushehr
  14. Golestan
  15. North Khorasan

Government Edit

Supreme LeaderEdit

Since the revolution of 1979 the Supreme Leader or Vali-e faqih has been the most powerful figure in the Iranian government. They are elected from the popularly elected 86 member Assembly of Experts or Meclis-i Hubregan, a body that meets twice yearly. The Supreme Leader appoints the six religious members of the 12-member Council of Guardians or Shura-yi Nigehban, as well as the highest judicial authorities and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Assembly of ExpertsEdit

The 86 members of the Assembly of Experts or Meclis-i Hubregan, which meets twice yearly, are popularly elected from among candidates deemed suitable by the Council of Guardians or Shura-yi Nigehban. In the December 16, 2006 elections for the Assembly of Experts, only 144 of some 500 candidates were allowed to compete for a seat by the Council of Guardians.

Note that the Council of Guardians limits who can run for the Assembly of Experts, who then elect the Supreme leader, who then appoints the members of Council of Guardians, who then limit who can run for the Assembly of Experts, who then elect the Supreme Leader....a so on in an elaborate ritual of democratic participation disguising rule by a theocratic oligarchy.


The head of state is the President, elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term by an absolute majority of votes and supervises the affairs of the executive branch. All presidential candidates must be approved by the Council prior to running. After his election, the president appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers (the cabinet), coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the parliament. The Council of Guardians certifies the competence of candidates for the presidency and the parliament.


The unicameral Iranian parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami, consists of 290 members elected to a 4-year term. The members are elected by direct and secret ballot. All legislation from the assembly must be reviewed by the Council of Guardians. The Council's six lay-members, all lawyers appointed by parliament, vote only on limited questions of the constitutionality of legislation; the six religious members consider all bills for conformity to Islamic principles.

International AffairsEdit

Iran is emerging as one of major regional powers in the Middle East. In lebanon it has cooperated with Syria to support their client fundamentalist Shiite movement and militia known as Hezbollah or the Party of God, which has rpoven surprsingly effective against Israeli military.

George W. Bush notoriously proclaimed Iran a member of the "Axis of Evil," but then proceeded to destroy Iran's archrival, the Ba'athist, Sunni dominated government of Iraq. Along with the Western occupation of neighboring Afghanistan, the power vacuum in Iraq required Iran to play some sort of role leading the Shiite majority, which had developed a number of exile-oriented organizations represented in Tehran such as SCIRI and a branch of Al-Dawa. The influence that the various sectors of the Iranian government (of which there are quite a few) will have on rising Shiite power in Iraq is unknown, but of profound importance. If radical Shiite clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr look to spread rebellion against the rulers of Shiites in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia, for example, Iran's Islamic influence could rise throughout the Gulf, with unknown results.

Iran's other primary issue with the international community is its nuclear energy and weapons development programs, which are progressing steadily thanks to the global traffic in nuclear parts. The recent IAEA Report on the Implementation of the Nuclear Safeguards Agreement in Iran details the latest findings on their weapons programs.

Human Rights Edit

The Islamic Republic has a poor record on human rights, although not as bad as Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Turkmenistan. Iranians have been arrested without due process, and torture is common. Before the Iranian Revolution, upper class and middle class Iranian women were among the freest and best educated in the Middle East; however their freedoms have been severely curtailed by the mullahs. In 2003, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in combating Iran’s severe human rights violations.

Military Edit

Iran has a large, battle-hardened army, which is likely to remain loyal to the government. Russia has supplied air defense missiles such as the TOR-M1, which might be effective against a smaller Israeli airstrike but not necessarily against a large U.S. airstrike. That probably explains why the Israeli right wants the U.S. to fight Iran instead. Iran also has a number of surface-to-surface missiles which have a range of 1300km. They can reach as far as Israel, and can certainly cause massive damage to oil processing facilities in the Persian Gulf. Iran has bought missile technology worldwide, especially from North Korea, but also from German and Russian middlemen. In December, the United States imposed sanctions on six Chinese, two Indian and one Austrian firm for selling missile or chemical weapons-related supplies to Iran.

On March 31, 2006, Iran announced that it had tested a new ballistic missile, the Fajr-3, which it claimed could evade radar and disperse multiple warheads. In the following days, they tested new, high-speed torpedoes.

Economy Edit

Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. The current administration has continued to follow the market reform plans of the previous one and has indicated that it will pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy.

The strong oil market in 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments. Iran's financial situation tightened in 1997 and deteriorated further in 1998 because of lower oil prices. The subsequent rise in oil prices in 1999-2000 afforded Iran fiscal breathing room but does not solve Iran's structural economic problems, including the encouragement of foreign investment.

Demographics Edit

Iran has a population of 68 million people, and this population is young and growing rapidly. Three-fourths of its people are less than 35 years old.

Almost two-thirds of Iran's people are of Aryan origin and speak one of the Indo-Iranian languages, though only Persian (Farsi), which is written in the Arabic alphabet, is an official language. The major groups in this category include Persians (51%), Gilaki and Mazandarani (8%), Kurds (7%), Lurs (2%), and Baluchi (2%). The remainder are primarily Turkic people such as the Azeri (24%) and Turkmen (2%), but also include Arabs (3%), Armenians, Jews, and Assyrians and others. Arabic, being the language of the Qur'an, is taught in schools as well.

Most Iranians are Muslims, though most Iranians don't attend mosque every Friday; 89% belong to the Shiite branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 10% belong to the Sunni branch, which predominates in most Muslim countries. Non-Muslim religious minorities include Baha'is and Zoroastrians, both being religions that originated in Iran, as well as Jews and Christians. Only the latter three are officially recognised minority religions.

Iran's population size increased dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century.

Iran's highly literate society is increasingly interconnected through the Internet. Surprisingly, Farsi is the third most widely used language in the blogosphere!


  • Anoushiravan Ehteshami. 1995. After Khomeini: The Second Iranian Rewvolution New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415108799.


External LinksEdit

See alsoEdit



Nations: Afghanistan | Armenia | Azerbaijan1 | Bahrain | Bangladesh | Bhutan | Brunei | Cambodia | China | Cyprus | East Timor2 | Egypt3 | Georgia1 | India | Indonesia2 | Iran | Iraq | Israel | Japan | Jordan | Kazakhstan1 | Kuwait | Kyrgyzstan | Laos | Lebanon | Malaysia | Maldives | Mongolia | Myanmar | Nepal | North Korea | Oman | Pakistan | Philippines | Qatar | Russia1 | Saudi Arabia | Singapore | South Korea | Sri Lanka | Syria | Taiwan 4 | Tajikistan | Thailand | Turkey1 | Turkmenistan | United Arab Emirates | Uzbekistan | Vietnam | Yemen

Territories: Hong Kong (PRC) | Jammu/Kashmir (India/Pakistan/PRC) | Macau (PRC) | Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan) | Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan) | Palestinian territories (Israel/Palestinian National Authority) | Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Cyprus)

(1) Partly in Europe; (2) Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania; (3) Mostly in Africa; (4) Independence disputed by China.

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